From Communist Ukraine or an unidentified Eastern European country where Hungarians, Germans, Romanians, Gypsies, Jews, Russians and Ukrainians coexist, to a New World of immigrants across the ocean, the stories in Elegy for a Fabulous World
create a mythological space in which fable and reality are impossible to untangle.
“Alta Ifland’s short stories work from the energy of defamiliarization, as some of the best pieces of world literature do. Her language is sweet, chatty and seductive, and when a reader gets comfortably situated in her world, like a mouse in cheese, she catapults her or him into another, “dangerously” different perspective. The world of Ifland’s stories is made of opposites: it’s warm and chilly, deeply humane and strangely absurd, gentle and rough, humorous and sad. Her writing can’t be pinned into an expected context. In spite of dividing her collection into “There” and “Here and There,” Ifland magically manages to protect her stories from being read as a literary “exemplar” of a national
literature, or of exile
literature, or of nomadic
literature, or émigré
literature, or of anything else which would overshadow (as it often does) the pure pleasure of the literary text.”
“Alta Ifland's uncanny tales merge the child’s innocent seeing with the sorrowful knowledge of myth. A gone world prospers in the real time of memory, its immediacies restored, its deeper significance coming clear like a shape disclosed by the archeologist's pick.”